The value of electricity continues to shine
By Derrill Holly
How many of us remember dropping into an OEC office with our parents and grandparents to pay the light bill? Whether you do that in person, by mail or online today, paying your monthly bill does a lot more than just keep the lights on.
Electricity keeps us connected to our modern world. Consider all the necessities and conveniences we enjoy in part because of the power lines running to the electric meter outside your home.
Count up your televisions, desktop, laptop and tablet computers, printers, your gaming consoles, music and video players and personal assistant devices. Whether they get used every day or just occasionally, the electricity that keeps them working comes from OEC.
Have you looked around your kitchen lately? Between the coffee maker and toaster and the microwave and electric skillet, a lot of us have added several other modern small appliances.
If you’ve got a craft nook or workshop, the power tools and machines you use to cut and shape your projects are either plugged in or recharged from the outlets connecting your household wiring to OEC.
You use electricity to run all these devices, and we still keep the lights on, use the stove, heating and air conditioning, and get hot water from tap. The good news is, even as we rely more on electricity, it’s still a bargain, especially compared to other things we pay for regularly.
A closer look at electricity's value
Since 2011, medical care, residential rental rates and education have increased at rates of 3 percent or more per year. Butter, meat and egg costs have been up by more than one to 2 percent annually, and even bread costs have risen better than a half point on average.
Electricity costs rise about 1 percent a year, but co-ops across the country have reported a decline in average residential use per household since 2010. That means we’re doing more things with less energy.
Kilowatt hour use per household dropped by 8 percent between 2010 and 2016, slightly less than the 9 percent decline reported by all electric utilities, nationwide.
When it comes to value, electricity is a clear winner, and we’re always looking for ways to work with you to make it even better. That’s why OEC urges energy efficiency, encourages you to look for ENERGY STAR® appliances, and promotes technology, designed to give members more control over their electricity use.
Energy performance dashboards, smart thermostats and power strips, and appliance settings that shift most water heating, laundry and dishwashing outside of peak rate periods help reduce the co-op’s overall power demand. They also give you opportunities to control or even trim your monthly utility bills.
That’s good for families, couples and individuals trying to live within their budgets. And it’s going to become even more important as digital devices and internet-connected technologies become even more important in our lives.
The average home now has 10 Wi-Fi connected devices. That number is expected to explode to 50 by 2020. Technology and the gateways that keep it working use electricity, so you’ll depend upon OEC for more than the power that keeps the lights on.
That’s why we’re always working to provide service that’s reliable, keep it affordable, and make it even more valuable to our member— you, your family and your neighbors.
Derrill Holly writes on cooperative issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.